LAW is Jean-Pictet Competition champion

The UP Diliman College of Law (LAW) bagged first place at the 40th Jean-Pictet Competition (Pictet) held from Feb. 25 to March 4 in Durrës, Albania, beating 44 other teams from universities worldwide.

The LAW team of Micah “Bob” Ecarma, Mika Andrea Ramirez, and Luis Alfonso Manlangit brought the title to the college after the 2022 team prevailed as champions at the 39th Pictet. Manlangit was also a nominee for the Gilbert Apollis Prize for best speaker.

(From left) Ramirez, Ecarma, and Manlangit. Photo from the LAW website

The team won against the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and the University of Basel from Switzerland; the United States Air Force Academy from the United States; and the University of Essex from the United Kingdom in the semi-finals. They moved on to defeat Israel’s University of Tel Aviv in the finals.

The Pictet is a training event focused on international humanitarian law (IHL) with the objective of taking the law out of the books.

PICTET website homepage. Screenshot of the website

Participants compete in simulations surrounding armed conflict where teams of three members play roles such as military, humanitarian, political, officers, and lawyers. The teams are evaluated by a jury in a series of oral tests. Participants also get to familiarize themselves with international criminal law, refugee law, and international relations.

In an UPDate Online interview, the 2023 LAW team said it was their first time participating in this particular competition.

“Personally, I’ve been in several moot court competitions throughout my law school journey, but this is genuinely the most fun I’ve had in any competition. Unlike other debate or moot court competitions, Pictet really focuses on simulations so you can be arguing for the state as an ambassador in one hour, then the next hour you’re a legal adviser arguing that what the state did was wrong. Pictet really launches you headfirst and fully immerses you in experiences related to IHL. At one point, we were members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent and we were sprinting through the beach in Albania to save and help refugees or wounded soldiers,” team captain Ecarma said.

For her part, Ramirez shared, “Additionally, although IHL and other relevant legal knowledge are important for Pictet, the competition’s format emphasizes the importance of necessary soft skills, such as empathy, cooperation, and the like. This is probably my most significant takeaway from the competition, since it shows how law and lawyers should not be enclosed in a vacuum, which is essential to maintain the humanity of the profession.”

The team expressed that they are still grappling with being champions.

“I don’t think I ever thought I’d earn the right to call myself a world champion in any field ever, so the fact that it became a reality shows that anything is possible, I guess,” Manlangit said.

The team thanked their coach, lawyer Paula Deveraturda.

“Even during the competition itself; she always told us to have fun, and was so caring throughout the entire week, and even made space for a video call right before we went into the finals. She even went so far as to help us out financially just to make sure we could make our trip and have a comfortable journey. We really couldn’t have won without her,” Ecarma said.

She also thanked the people who helped them train and prepare for the competition.

“Thank you to Isis Valencia, Josh Simbillo, and of course to Caleb Catalan, Lance Villarosa, and Paolo Jose who composed the competing team of the 39th edition—the first team to win UP Law a world championship in this competition,” she said.

The team also thanked their donors, family, friends, block mates, and schoolmates who provided them with valuable emotional support, words of encouragement, and prayers throughout the competition.

Ecarma thanked their “fourth member” Elo who “poured so much effort into the team and competition in more ways than one.”

Manlangit thanked their friends Robyn, Max, Aanne, Erin, and Michiko who helped them to get home. “We’re very thankful that they went through all that stress to make sure we got back.”

Meanwhile, Ramirez thanked her mom who “always told me to take risks and stay unafraid, and I think those were what helped me see this competition all the way to the end.”